ALL of the best furniture paints we recommend and some fun effects! We have been painting furniture for clients and friends for years. Even if you haven’t painted furniture before, this guide makes it easy to know the what, why, and how.
I can’t think of anything more disheartening than a bad paint job. All the prep and work you put into a piece to watch it chip and fail is the worst. And, unfortunately, I have seen it many times with friends and clients.
The truth is that over the many years of painting furniture and refinishing, not all products are created equal.
So, today, I thought I would take some time to share a guide to the best paints for furniture! I have used so many different kinds and, honestly, paint types are NOT all equal.
How to Prep Furniture for Painting
I also won’t go too much into the prep-work necessary for painting furniture, but if you are interested, we have articles on
- Removing wood grain (also great for scratches)
- How To Paint Oak Cabinets – this shows our step by step prepping process.
- If your piece doesn’t require much repair, all of the paints that I recommend only need to be cleaned really well with either Simple Green or TSP if you have heavy stains.
- After cleaning, sand well with 120-220 grit sandpaper. If you want a paint job to last, I generally don’t recommend skipping sanding.
- If you are painting a piece with knots or stains, add a layer of shellac primer over those spots to keep any discoloration from seeping into your paint.
Supplies for Painting Furniture That I use and Recommend
Links are included to show you what I am referring to:
- Orbital Sander or Mouse Sander
- Sanding Bricks
- Paint Brush (my favorite for a smooth finish are the takylon brushes you can buy at Michael’s and other craft stores.)
- Microfiber rollers (for painting large, flat areas)
- Something to stir the paint with
- Sprayer (optional, but here is the one we use or you can read our guide to choosing the best paint sprayer here)
- Drop Cloths
- Blocks of wood or table (to paint the bottom edges)
How to Choose the Best Furniture Paint
The good news is it won’t take long to see your furniture totally transform in a matter of a few hours. But first, you need the right products. I admit that I do not use the same furniture paint for every project, nor should you. To get the best results, there are a few considerations:
- Painting method – brush, spray, or roller (how smooth and free of brush strokes do you want the paint to be?)
- Durability Factor – How often will the piece be touched, banged, or used?
- Sheen Factor – What kind of sheen do you want? Matte, satin, or gloss?
To make this easy, here is a shortcut chart about the paints I usually recommend and the situations around them:
All of the paints I recommend are also very low to no VOC, so I can paint them indoors with no fumes!
I think it’s a fair disclaimer that I am not a big fan of chalk paint in general. It is simply a personal preference as I don’t like how it feels when dry and I have tried several brands for clients. I find that Chalk Paint is one of the least durable paints without a top coat, and, in my home with boys, I need maximum durability and cleaning.
However, chalk paint is great for things like home decor signs, picture frames, or furniture that doesn’t have constant handling.
The best I have found is a DIY chalk paint, and it is much cheaper than the fancy brands. Here is the recipe:
- Interior Paint (I usually use Acrylic Paint or A paint without primer – I find that certain paints+primer can make the texture gummy, but different brands may not have that problem)
- 4 oz of Calcium Carbonate
- Dissolve ¾ cup of calcium carbonate powder in just enough water to reach a smooth consistency. It shouldn’t be too watery. I would say about the consistency of salad dressing is perfect.
- Pour the calcium carbonate mixture into 3 cups (24 oz) of paint, stirring well. After it is smooth, add a bit more paint to make 1 full quart (about ¼ cup) and stir again.This recipe sits well in a cool dry place for a few days, when tightly covered. Just give it a stir before using. The calcium carbonate powder also has a long shelf life in a sealed bag.
Fusion Mineral Paint
Fusion Mineral is the paint I use most often. I love the matte sheen, which is still pretty flat but not quite as flat as chalk paint. You can learn more about Fusion Mineral here, but here are my general thoughts:
- Can be brushed or sprayed with a paint sprayer. For large flat areas, I would use a microfiber roller to lessen brush strokes, unless you are spraying.
- Wax and finishes work great without altering the color as much as chalk paint.
- Controlled distressing is a breeze.
- Some colors can be a bit easier to work with and spread better. This is more of a boutique paint and made in smaller batches than your commercial brands.
- Fusion Mineral is very durable but I wouldn’t use it without a polyacrylic on surface that will see a lot of wear, such as a kitchen table or a heavily used dresser. However, I often use this with a top coat poly and even did my kitchen island with it.
Benjamin Moore Advance Alkyd Paint
This isn’t my necessarily my favorite paint, but it is one I use often in specific situations. Here are the situations I would use this:
- When I want maximum durability without a topcoat.
- When I cannot use a sprayer, but want the most brush stroke free finish.
- When I would like a Satin or slightly glossy finish.
All projects I have used this paint for have held up beautifully. It is also easy to wipe off dirty fingerprints.
This paint does, in fact, come in a flat sheen and an eggshell. My store does not have those sheens and thus, I have not used them. However, I will say that I wasn’t impressed with the high gloss. The cure time was far too long for me.
The only trouble I have ever had with this paint is when I tried to thin it with water. If you do require thinning, I might choose another paint.
Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint
This is a paint with a very specific finish. It’s called “chippy” because rather than distressing furniture via sanding it off, the paint sort of chips off to give it that style. It authentically creates an aged finish that looks much more natural than other paints.
- It is virtually brush stroke free, and much easier to work with than other paints if you don’t want brush strokes.
- Miss Mustard Seed works really well on raw wood as well. It is very durable and soaks down into the wood. It does not chip as much on raw wood.
- Probably the most natural ingredient paint you will find on the market. Great for people with sensitivities to chemicals.
- It is a very thin paint and takes a bit of practice to learn how it behaves.
If you are interested in learning more about how to use milk paint, I highly recommend watching this workshop on working with Milk Paint.
Dresser Painted with Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint
Decorative Finishes for Furniture
There are so many fun finishes out there! Finishes are like adding jewelry to your favorite little black dress. The dress is wonderful on it’s own, but that extra touch enhances the whole package. Here are some of the finishing products that I love and where to buy them:
Fusion Mineral Furniture Wax – Most tutorials show using wax as a protective finish, but it is also a great decorative finish. Here are some of the decorative finishes you can do with wax-
- Use dark wax to age a piece. Particularly with a light colored piece, I lay the wax over a polyacrylic. That’s just my preference so that I get the durability of the polyacrylic and the luster of the wax. This also keeps the wax from seeping into the paint and making it more controllable.
- Mix in metallic cream to give a bit of metallic sheen.
- Mix in metallic gilding powder for more of a metallic punch.
- Tint the wax with a bit of paint to layer different colors.
Liming Wax – I did a cerusing technique on this table and liming furniture is a very beautiful, but specific finish.
Metallic Cream – This is a metallic paint that can be buffed over a second paint color to leave a beautiful metallic luster. I really like this pearl one, so it comes down to color preference.
FAQs About Furniture Painting
Yes, usually. While sanding will unquestionably give you the best bond and last longer, there are many paints that work well without sanding.
No. The only reason to ever sand between fresh applied paint is to remove imperfections or if it isn’t smooth to your liking. Don’t sand the final coat unless you plan to apply a top coat.
I have used several brands and explain more in detail the best furniture top coats here.
PS I love seeing your creations! Be sure to take a photo and tag #cravingcreative on Instagram! You can also stay in touch with me through following me on Instagram, Pinterest, and Subscribing to the Newsletter!
More Furniture Painting and Refinishing Projects
- How to Paint A Bathroom Vanity
- How To Paint without Brush Marks
- Painting Outdoor Furniture to Last
- Painting Oak Kitchen Cabinets
- Our Entertainment Center Transformation
Grab our free series "Weekend Home Projects that will Transform Your Life"
Sign up below to receive updates including free printables, organization tips, home improvement projects, recipes and more!
More Furniture Ideas